Conclave 2013: Could Cardinal Donald Wuerl Be the Next Pope?

By John Gonzalez, Suzanne Kennedy
March 7, 2013

As Catholic bishops from around the world descend on the Vatican to prepare to pick a new pope, speculation continues to swirl about who will succeed Pope Benedict XVI.

One of those names that is being tossed around is Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

With the start of the papal conclave just days away, the local cardinal is already in Rome. He's among the 117 cardinals from around the world, and one of 11 Americans who will select the next pope.

"I think it's awesome," said Washington resident Bernadette Semple. "Cardinal Wuerl, I know him - great theologian, great leader, wonderful man."

In his home diocese, parishioners are hopeful - albeit skeptical - that Wuerl would be the pick. In fact, an American being named the papacy is a long shot, with Wuerl himself dismissing the possibility upon his arrival in Rome.

"I think we have to stay in the real world, and the real world doesn't include me in this," Wuerl said on Good Morning America last week.

In the meantime, SNAP, a group representing survivors of sexual abuse by priests, named Wuerl in a list of cardinals they believe would be the worst candidates for pope based "on lack of actions and public comment about child sex abuse".

Members of the local diocese, including D.C. resident Becky Ianni, says that Wuerl is not the leader the Catholic church needs to deal with the scandal.

"I feel that Wuerl's attitude is (they've) done everything," Ianni said. "I think the attitude has to be, 'What's the most we can do?'"








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